Windsor and the Post-Pandemic Healthy City: A Community Conversation – Speaker Bios


Mita Williams (Head, Information Services Dept; Scholarly Publishing Librarian; University of Windsor, Leddy Library)

After graduating from McMaster University with an Honours B.Sc in Geography and Environmental Science and acquiring a M.L.I.S. from McGill University, Mita was employed in a number of contract positions in public, corporate, non-profit, government, and academic libraries before joining the Leddy Library as Science Librarian in 1999.


Jeremiah Bowers (Chairperson, National Black Students’ Caucus)

Jeremiah is an Arts student at the University of Windsor. He was a two-term UWSA president (2018-2020) and was recently elected Chair of the National Black Students’ Caucus.

Bryan Datoc (Co-owner, Craft Heads Brewing Co.)

Bryan is the co-owner of Craft Heads Brewing Co. He has also been the Treasurer of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Area (DWBIA) since 2019.

Vincent Georgie (Director, University of Windsor, School of Creative Arts [SOCA]/Windsor International Film Festival [WIFF])

Vincent Georgie is the Director of the School of Creative Arts (SOCA) at the University of Windsor. He is also the Executive Director and Chief Programmer for WIFF. He holds degrees from the University of Toronto, the University of Windsor and HEC (Montreal). His work with WIFF was recently profiled here.

Elayne Isaacs (Integrated Care Manager, Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre)

Elayne is from the Oneida Nation and Turtle Clan. She was raised in London, Ontario, and now calls Windsor her home, where she has raised her family; her husband Robert and 2 children. Elayne graduated from Cambrian College Native Child and Family Service Worker Diploma with Honours and has been serving and enriching the lives of the native communities ever since. She is highly experienced in the Aboriginal Services field, bringing 30 years of experience servicing native families in urban settings; recently as the past Director of Operations at At^lohsa Native Family Healing Services and  20 years at Can-Am Urban Native Homes as the Tenant Liaison. Elayne is a strong advocate for family wellness and understands the importance of providing culturally appropriate, wholistic services. She is passionate to enhance the quality of life for the Indigenous community of Windsor.

Elayne is a spiritual woman that attends longhouse ceremonies, Medewiwin ceremonies, sweat lodges and sun dances. She is proud of her cultural ways and always enjoys learning from the Elders. Elayne adores the pow wow circle and has danced various pow wow styles since 6 years of age. She has been a jingle dress dancer for over 20 years. Elayne is a certified yoga instructor and practices yoga as part of her personal wellness care. She often offers free yoga classes to the native community. Elayne is also an avid gardener and beader in her spare time. She loves to travel and when she is not working, you will usually catch her at a pow wow, round dance ceremonies or fishing across Turtle Island.

Laverne Jacobs (Associate Dean, University of Windsor, Faculty of Law/Law, Disability and Social Change Project)

Laverne Jacobs joined Windsor’s Faculty of Law in 2007. She is a recognized administrative law scholar who teaches in the area of public law. Her research interests include the independence and impartiality of administrative actors; human rights law; disability rights; equality; access to information; comparative administrative law; and qualitative empirical research methodology. Her work has been cited by law reform agencies and by courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada. Laverne Jacobs founded and directs The Law, Disability and Social Change Project, a research and public advocacy initiative housed at Windsor Law that works to foster and develop inclusive communities.

In 2014, she was named the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Canadian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and, while holding this Chair, conducted the first stage of a multi-year research study on disability rights and administrative law regulation.

In addition to being a Fulbright scholar, Professor Jacobs has been the recipient of a number of research awards including a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship, and a Young Academics’ Scholarship from Cambridge University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Cornell University Law School  and at the Center for the Study of Law  and Society  at the University of California, Berkeley. She received University of Windsor Faculty Recognition Awards for Excellence in Scholarship and Research in 2010 and 2014.

Outside of the University, Dr. Jacobs has served on the Board of Directors of the Income Security Advocacy Centre, the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, where she has sat on its Research Committee and Administrative Tribunals Committee, and Beyond Disability of Windsor-Essex.  Dr. Jacobs has held public appointments as a member of the Advisory Council to the Ontario Minister responsible for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and as a part-time member of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Professor Jacobs teaches Administrative Law, and a seminar in  Law, Disability & Social Change (Comparative and Transnational Perspectives) at the JD level. At the graduate level she teaches Research Methods, the Graduate Seminar and co-teaches Law Teaching in the Diverse Classroom.Dr. Jacobs is a former Editor-in-Chief of the Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice. She is the 2018 recipient of the University of Windsor’s Mary Lou Dietz Equity Leadership Award and of a University of Windsor Teaching Excellence Award (2018). In 2019, she was honoured with the Windsor Essex County Accessibility Award.

Janice Kaffer (President and CEO, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare)

Janice has been serving in executive roles for many years – most recently as the Chief Executive Officer and President of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, in Windsor. Janice’s role previously at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare was as the VP Clinical Programs and CNE. Prior to this role, Janice was the VP and CNE at a district health authority in Nova Scotia where she had leadership accountability for many of the programs now delivered at HDGH.

As a skilled communicator and systems leader; Janice has been recognized by peers, government and professional colleagues as a successful and engaging leader of strategic change and organizational development. Janice delivers value based leadership that is inclusive of the principles of patient and family centered care, staff development and physician engagement and is focused on individual accountability for results within a strong team based structure.

Janice draws her strength and inspiration from her friends, her colleagues and particularly from her family. Her husband of 35 years Bernie, her children Kate and Matt, as well as her son-in-law Jason all keep Janice focused on the importance of family and community. Janice is an exceptionally proud Amma to her grandchildren, Allison, Nathan and Courtney who are the light of her life.

Judene McCalla (Founder and Creative Director, See You There Invitations)

As a graduate of the University of Windsor, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Criminology. Although my career extends to social science, my desire to launch my own business began after I designed my friend’s invitations and accessories for her wedding in 2005.

Deidre Ritsche (Real Estates Sales Rep, Border City Living)

Deidre Ritsche is a top-producing realtor and the co-founder of Border City Living, Windsor & Essex County’s community-minded design, culture and real estate blog. Using her experience living and working in many major European cities, Ritsche works to reimagine the traditional models of real estate investment by focusing on human-centric, sustainable urban development in core neighbourhoods such as downtown and Ford City. 

Lyra Sheldon (Student, École Sécondaire Catholique E.J. Lajeunesse)

Lyra Sheldon is a graduating student at École Sécondaire Catholique E.J. Lajeunesse. In the Fall of 2020 she will be attending the University of Ottawa.

Edwin Tam (Associate Professor, University of Windsor, Faculty of Engineering)

Dr. Edwin Tam is affiliated to Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Windsor. Dr. Edwin Tam has authored and co-authored multiple peer-reviewed scientific papers and presented works at many national and international conferences. Dr. Tam’s research interests include end of life vehicle recycling, brownfields management, assessing infrastructure sustainability, and life cycle assessment approaches.

Hugo Vega (Regional Manager of Settlement Services, YMCA of Southwest Ontario)

Hugo Vega (He/Him) is the Regional Manager of Settlement Services at the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario where he oversees federally and provincially funded programs that assist immigrants and refugees as they settle in London, Sarnia and Windsor. His role includes leading the WE Value partnership, a pilot introducing innovation to the settlement sector in the areas of service delivery, technology and data management. He is the current chair of the Windsor-Essex Local Immigration Partnership, a cross-sectoral community planning body and of Legal Assistance of Windsor, a community Legal clinic for low-income residents. His previous experience includes working with migrant workers, establishing employment programs for at-risk youth and people with disabilities and being the chair of the board of the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative, a network of people committed to urban renewal. Hugo was born in Mexico City, Mexico and is a Political Science graduate from the University of Windsor.

Julian Villafuerte (Project Coordinator and Researcher, WorkForce WindsorEssex)

Julian Villafuerte is a Project Coordinator and Researcher at Workforce WindsorEssex. Julian grew up in Tecumseh, and graduated from the University of British Columbia’s Bachelor in Global Resource Systems program in 2018. As a specialist in urban and community development, Julian has a passion for bringing people together to address complex issues and develop innovative solutions. At UBC, Julian was involved with the UBC Sustainability Initiative as the chair of the Student Sustainability Council, and with the student government at UBC, where he received the recognition of Councillor of the Year. He is the founder of a demonstration community gardening project at UBC called The Agronomy Garden.

Julian is a believer in the potential for strong economic development and urban innovation in the Windsor-Essex region, and is motivated to make an impact through his work at Workforce WindsorEssex. Since joining the organization in November 2018, Julian has applied his skillset in data analysis, qualitative research, and stakeholder engagement to spearhead work on regional talent attraction and retention and other topics. He is the author of Attracting and Retaining Talent in Windsor-Essex: an essential guide and the Guide to Creating Mapping Tools.

Yousef Wahb (Imam, Windsor Islamic Association)

Sh. Yousef Wahb is a graduate of Al-Azhar’s Faculty of Languages and Translation, where he studied Islamic Studies in the English Language. He has also acquired an Advanced Level of Qira’at (Quranic modes of Recitation) from Al-Azhar Institute.He has dedicated over 10 years as an imam and visiting lecturer at various Islamic Centres, mosques, schools, and youth camps. Previously, he headed the Academic Committee of Shaykh al-Amoud Foundation to educate youth in Egypt on the various branches of Islamic knowledge. Since 2014, he has been serving Windsor’s Muslim community, initially as an Imam at the Rose City Islamic Centre and currently as the Imam of Youth, Education & Outreach at the Windsor Islamic Association. He serves several community initiatives through the Windsor Imams Council and the Windsor Islamic Council while continuing to teach a wide array of disciplines (including Quran, Fiqh, Hadith, Aqeeda, and Logic) to diverse ages and audiences in both Arabic and English through the Al-Majlis program. Sh. Yousef also regularly counsels: Mosque congregants, special case referrals through ISWA, and youth, in coordination with the Muslim Student Association at the University.

Sarah Woodruff Atkinson (University of Windsor, Faculty of Human Kinetics/Community Health, Environment and Wellness Lab)

I am a multidisciplinary researcher who strives to advance the health and wellness among Canadian children and adolescents.  More specifically, I am a community-based researcher who investigates the environmental influences (e.g., family, peers, school, media) on nutrition, physical activity, body image, and other health outcomes. Much of my research is done in partnership with various public health units, the Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa Association (BANA), Leadership Advancement for Women and Sport (LAWS), and the Ontario Student Nutrition Program.

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